Official or co-official languages

Italian; linguistic minorities are protected (article 6, Constitution).

The language of civil and criminal proceedings is Italian (article 122, Civil Procedure Code and article 109, Criminal Procedure Code), but thanks to regional laws protecting indigenous linguistic minorities, other languages may be used in certain regions with a high degree of administrative autonomy (special status - statuto speciale): French in Valle d’Aosta, Ladin and German in Trentino Alto Adige, and Slovenian in Friuli Venezia Giulia.  These safeguards only apply to Italian citizens who are native speakers of the minority languages in question.

Brief description of linguistic diversity

Historical language minorities” (Law 482, 14 December 1999): Albanian, Catalan, Croatian, Franco-Provençal, French, Friulian, German, Greek, Ladin, Occitan, Sardinian and Slovenian. These languages may be taught in schools and used in public acts where they are spoken.

Immigrant minority groups: Romania, Albania, Morocco, China, Ukraine, Philippines, Moldova, India, Poland, Tunisia, Peru, Ecuador, Egypt, Macedonia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka (top 16 countries in descending order; Italian Statistics Agency ).



Current legislative mandates for LIT and certification

Article 111 (3) of the Constitution stipulates that defendants who do not understand or speak the language of the proceedings are entitled to the assistance of an interpreter; moreover, “defendants who do not know the Italian language are entitled to the free assistance of an interpreter in order to be able to understand the charges against them and follow the progress of the proceedings” (article 143, Criminal Procedure Code). This article has been amended by Legislative Decree 32, 4 March 2014 (transposing EU Directive 2010/64 on the right to interpretation and translation), to include preliminary hearings and lawywer-defendant meetings. The rights and language need       s of witnesses or victims are not explicitly mentioned. The appointed individual may also be required to translate certain essential documents (listed in the article). Articles 143 to 147 regulate the work of interpreters and translators: the two terms are used interchangeably. In both criminal and civil cases, insufficient knowledge of Italian must be verified by legal authorities before an interpreter/translator can be appointed. In civil proceedings, judges may appoint an interpreter when someone who does not know the Italian language must be heard (article 122, Civil Procedure Code), and/or a translator when documents in a foreign language must be translated (article 123). The Civil Procedure Code distinguishes between “translator” and “interpreter”, but no explanation is provided.  In both criminal and civil proceedings, the interpreter/translator is expected to perform the task “well and accurately”, but no qualification requirements or quality control mechanisms are mentioned in the legislation. Fees are set in Law 319 (8 July 1980), later modified by a number of ministerial decrees, the latest of which was published in Official Journal 182, 5 August 2002. Interpreters and translators are paid in relation to the time spent working: the first two-hour period (vacazione) is paid €14.68, with subsequent two-hour periods being paid €8.15 each. For interpreters the calculation is based on the time spent in court; translators must quantify the time spent on the text, and fees may be doubled (subject to the judge’s approval) for extremely complex or urgent translations.

Responsible parties:


Current accrediting bodies

There is no national certification for interpreters and translators.

Freelance interpreters apply to be placed on the list of the court district where they are domiciled.

Staff interpreters/translators are recruited to work as civil servants (permanent positions) in Ministries by means of open competitive examinations (concorsi) when the need for a specific language combination arises. They may not work in legal proceedings for reasons of incompatibility. Ministry of Justice: staff translators/interpreters work in Civil & Criminal Affairs, Prisons Department, and Juvenile Justice departments in Rome and in the three border regions of Valle d'Aosta, Trentino Alto-Adige and Friuli-Venezia Giulia.

About 250 linguistic experts work for the Ministry of the Interior:, in the Rome Central Offices and Directorates (about 25%) and in the Police Headquarters, stations and offices throughout Italy (about 75%). They currently cover 11 languages: Albanian, Arabic, Chinese, French, English, Portuguese, Russian, Slovenian, Spanish German and Turkish. When a different language is needed, freelancers are used.

Does register exist?

There is no national Register of legal interpreters.  

Each court has its own list of “interpreters” living in the area of the court's jurisdiction: in criminal courts interpreters are placed on the list of expert witnesses (albo dei periti); in civil courts they are listed together with the “technical consultants” of the court (albo dei consulenti tecnici). The judge usually chooses an interpreter from the relevant list (article 67 of the implementation rules of the Criminal Procedure Code; article 61 of the implementation rules of the Civil Procedure Code); however, individuals who are not on the list may be appointed, if judges motivate their choice.

Who develops certification exams?

Freelancers: No certification exam available. A degree of quality control is only exercised by professional associations (who require candidates to have certain qualifications and to pass a professional proficiency test), but it is not compulsory to join one.

Staff translators/interpreters: Application requirements and procedures vary from one open competition to another. They are infrequent and not held at regular intervals (in the last 20 years the recruitment rounds have been as follows: Ministry of Justice in 1993, 1994, 2008; Ministry of the Interior in 1985, 1993, 1998).

Who/How many rate performances?



There are several translator and interpreter associations and all of them collaborate with universities. AITIAssociazione Italiana Traduttori e Interpreti (Italian Association of Translators and Interpreters) is the largest and oldest ( and has a dedicated Legal Interpreters and Translators Committee. The Association has a mandatory CPD programme: members are required to attend training courses, webinars and so on. AssITIG – Associazione Italiana Traduttori e Interpreti Giudiziari (Italian Association of Legal Translators and Interpreters) was set up in 2010 in Siracusa (Sicily) specifically to promote the professionalisation in this sector ( The Association organises training seminars and collaborates with universities on training and research. ANTIMI (Associazione Nazionale Traduttori Interpreti Ministero dell’Interno) was set up in 2002 by Ministry of the Interior staff translators/interpreters ( They have their own CPD training programme and maintain relations with the academic and research community and with other professional associations to promote the advancement of the profession.

A recent development that has special relevance for LITs is the initiative led by AITI to develop a technical standard for translators and interpreters, in collaboration with UNI (the Italian Standards Organisation: and includes delegates from other key professional associations (AIIC, AssoInterpreti, AssITIG, Trad.In.Fo., A.N.I.T.I.) and universities offering degree courses in translation and interpreting (Trieste, Bologna, Milan, Fondazione Universitaria S. Pellegrino, UNINT Rome). 8 professional profiles have been defined, i.e. conference interpreter, legal interpreter, public service interpreter, business interpreter, legal translator, technical translator, localizer and film dialogue writer. Their knowledge, skills and competences are described in details, in order to provide guidance to end users. The new standard is expected to be released in 2014. Compliance with a UNI standard is a pre-requisite for 3rd party certification (Law 4/2013).

Test Format:


T & I in one exam?

No exam for freelancers. For staff interpreter-translators: yes.

Screening exam? Describe.

No exam for freelancers. For staff interpreter-translators: written test(s) are eliminatory and they are followed by an oral exam.

Test type/format

None for freelancers.

For staff interpreter-translators: the recruitment test format has varied widely, depending on the Ministry, on the year of the open competition and the characteristics of the advertised post (linguistic expert, translator/interpreter). There is always a written exam, which over the years has consisted in a range of tests combined in different ways: e.g. translation from the first foreign language (L1) into Italian (with dictionaries); or an essay in L1 and a written translation into the second foreign language (L2), with dictionaries; or an essay in L1 and one in L2, with no dictionaries; or 4 translation tests (L1 > Italian; Italian  > L1; L2 > Italian,  Italian > L2), with dictionaries; or a general knowledge test. The oral test has also varied widely: e.g. a sight translation from L1 into Italian and an interview in L1; or an interview in both foreign languages; or sight translation (L1> Italian; L2 > Italian) and oral questions; or an interview in the two foreign languages and questions in Italian.

Domains tested

None for freelancers.

For staff interpreter-translators, the texts chosen for the written exams are of a general nature. In the oral part, the domains tested depends on the Ministry that is selecting translators/interpreters (e.g. Ministry of Justice: usually basic elements of the Italian legal system and of criminal and civil procedure; Ministry the Interior: elements of public law, professional ethics, and the organisational structure of the Ministry).


N/A for freelancers

For staff interpreter-translators: holistic pass or fail.



Website? Dissemination of info about certification

Open competitions for recruitment (not certification) as civil servants are advertised in the Gazzetta Ufficiale (Official Gazette), with general information about testing dates and application procedures. Freelance translators/interpreters apply to the court of their district. Application forms and procedures can be found on court websites or from court offices.

Requirements to sit exam

Being of legal age (18 in Italy)

For staff interpreters-translators: Italian citizenship, education (university degree or secondary school diploma, depending on the post applied for)

Sample questions or practice exam available?


Additional qualifications for certification (experience, training, educational level, nationality)

No certification.

Criteria for inclusion in court lists vary widely across the country. Some courts require translators/interpreters to be registered with the local Chamber of Commerce; most courts require a degree as a minimum qualification, but not necessarily in languages or translation/ interpreting. For interpreters of rare languages, minimum requirements may be waived, and in general foreigners’ knowledge of Italian is not tested. An example of good practice is the procedure established for the Rome Courts, where applicants are required to have a degree in Languages or Translation/ Interpreting (self-certified); an Italian language certificate issued by an Italian state school (self-certified); basic knowledge of the Italian Criminal Procedure Code (self-certified). A full CV with proof of professional experience (translations, publications, invoices, etc.) must also be submitted.

Cost to candidate/#of locations/ frequency

Criminal and civil courts have separate lists of freelance interpreters. Candidates wishing to work in both civil and criminal cases have to register and pay twice: applicants pay a €168 fee for each registration.

Feedback on exam performance


Score grievance procedure available


Maximum nº of sittings


Permanent or renewable certification






Revocation of certification possible?


If so, for what reasons?


Performance monitored? If so, how?